Schools Superintendent Gina Wohlford and staff outlined a rough budget that anticipates some increases in state funding thanks to Gov. Ralph Northam’s recommended statewide public education budget.
Northam has called for $140.4 million statewide to boost funding for educationally at-risk students. Wohlford said Norton is a prime candidate for part of those funds if approved by the General Assembly.
Northam’s budget plan also calls for $145.1 million to help school divisions give a 3% salary boost for teacher and educational support personnel. Another $125 million in Northam’s plan would give flexible-use funds for school divisions, and $99.3 million would go to help local school systems increase the number of guidance counselors at all grade levels.
Northam’s budget plan would also include:
— $27.6 million for more English language teaching positions.
— $10.6 million statewide to help cover school breakfasts and lunches for families eligible for reduced school meal pricing.
— $808.5 million for enrollment and program updates.
Wohlford said the budget proposals could be reduced as the General Assembly works out a final budget, but she offered an anticipated 2020-21 revenue budget including:
— an 11% hike in state revenues from $5.5 million this year to $6.12 million.
— a 5% rise in local-share city funding from $2.48 million to $2.6 million.
— a tentative 4% rise in federal funds from $496,882 to $514,630.
— a 3% hike in miscellaneous funding sources from $202,997 to $209,398.
The preliminary numbers are based on a projected two-student rise in the division’s average daily membership from this year’s 775 to 777, Wohlford said. While posting a number for federal funds, she said the status of federal funding is uncertain and estimated increases in employee health coverage have not been received.
Wohlford told the board that the preliminary budget includes some increases for travel for gifted student programs as well as travel funds for teacher and staff training. The transportation line of the budget also includes $230,000 for replacement of two full-size school buses and two 10-passenger buses.
After expenditures, the initial budget proposal includes an overall 9.2% spending hike from this year’s $8.68 million to $9.44 million.
The school board will hold another budget workshop on March 16 at 6 p.m., followed by a regular school board meeting at 6:45 p.m. A public hearing on a finalized budget is scheduled for April 20. All three meetings will be held at city council chambers.